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Literature

The Book of Songs, China's first anthology of poetry and earliest literary achievement, was compiled in the sixth century B.C. Literature that followed in the long succession of dynasties includes pre-Qin prose in a simple style, magnificent Han Dynasty fu (rhymed prose), and the yuefu (folk songs) of the end of the Han Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty alone can be credited with thousands of poets, including Li Bai, Du Fu and Bai Juyi. The Song Dynasty was known for its ci (lyrics). The most notable achievement of the Yuan Dynasty literature was the zaju (a type of poetic drama set to music). The Ming and Qing dynasties saw the production of four masterpieces of the novel: Three Kingdoms, Outlaws of the Marsh, Journey to the West and A Dream of Red Mansions. They have been celebrated for centuries for their rich historical and cultural connotations and unique styles. Modern Chinese literature has seen two golden ages: The first was in the 1920s to the 1930s when vernacular Chinese replaced the archaic written Chinese language in the New Culture Movement, as represented by Lu Xun, Shen Congwen, Ba Jin, Lao She, and Zhang Ailing. (Ba Jin, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2004, also founded in 1957 what continues to be China's leading literary magazine, Harvest, published in Shanghai, which has a circulation of some 130,000.) The second was some 10 years ago, from the 1980s to the 1990s, when a new literature movement flourished in China following the country's reform and opening-up in 1979. Young writers introduced a variety of modern and avant-garde literary ideas and styles to China. Among China's literary awards, the most prestigious are the Mao Dun Literary Award, Lu Xun Literary Award and Annual Chinese Literary Person. The Museum of Modern Chinese Literature in Beijing, built in 2000, displays the desks, chairs and writing tools used by 18 of the most famous modern Chinese writers. It also has a large collection of literary works, handwriting, translation, letters and other information.

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